An eastern diamondback rattlesnake
Man battling to save his hand after putting rattlesnake around his snake and being bitten. Reuters

Mica Craig, a 47 year old shopper at Walmart in the town of Clarkston in the US state of Washington, was bitten by a rattlesnake while browsing through the outdoor garden department of the store. He mistook the snake for a stick he thought was lying in the passageway, reported. The snake bit him on his right hand.

"I reached down to grab the stick to move it out of the way, and the snake stretched out, turned around and got its fangs in my right hand. I slung it off and I did a tap dance on it until it was dead," Craig was quoted as saying in a Reuters report, when asked about the incident. A fellow shopper who took Craig to the hospital said the snake was about a foot long.

Incidentally, rattlesnakes usually only bite to defend themselves and most bites are "dry", meaning no venom is injected. Craig received just such a bite but doctors did add it would have still caused severe pain and Craig's hand reportedly swelled to the size of a melon. He was given six bags of anti-venom injections to treat the swelling, according to doctors.

"It was kind of like a bee sting at first. And I thought 'Well, that's not bad. He didn't bite me. But when I got into the car and started going to the hospital, it started to burn like somebody was injecting acid into my hand," Craig told KTVB.

Meanwhile, Walmart has apologised to Craig and confirmed they were inquiring into how the snake was inside the store.

"At this point, it appears to be an isolated incident. We are working with a pest management team, which is conducting a sweep of the property to ensure there is no additional rattlesnake activity," Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said.